advertisement

Siddick PondsSiddick Ponds - After The Fire

Siddick Ponds is one of two Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) in the Workington area. A Local Nature Reserve (LNR) is an area of land protected for its contribution towards wildlife, geology, education and public enjoyment. There are over 1400 LNRs across England for both people and wildlife to enjoy.

It is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) primarily due to the diversity of birdlife it supports. SSSIs are the country's very best wildlife and geological sites and there are over 4,100 in England, covering around 7% of the country's land area.

History of the ponds

The ponds are a product of both natural and human influences. Approximately ten thousand years ago the ponds were part of a huge delta in what is now the River Derwent. The depression in which the water is held is only twelve feet above sea level. The name 'Siddick' is believed to have originated from 'Siggit' or 'Seagate' an old racecourse located close to where the ponds are today.

The coal industry and associated railways used to transport coal, made a lasting impression on the ponds. In the mid 19th century, the Cleator Moor to Maryport railway was constructed, part of which passed through what is now the nature reserve. Coal continued to be extracted up until the 1970's at nearby St Helen's pit in Siddick. Following its closure and demolition much of the land was reclaimed and many hundreds of trees and shrubs were planted, creating much new habitat for small birds such as Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Linnet.

Wildlife of the ponds

Siddick Ponds is one of Cumbria's most important bird sites, despite its close proximity to heavy industry, commerce, housing and a busy main road. The large reedbeds and extensive open water habitat is unique in Cumbria and attracts a distinctive community of birds throughout the year.   The combination of two ponds - one freshwater, the other brackish - contributes to the variety of species using the site.Siddick Pond Nature Reserve

Winter is the best time to observe wildfowl on the ponds. Over-wintering birds include Teal, Goldeneye, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler and occasional parties of Whooper Swan, usually in family groups. Many of these birds will have spent the summer months on breeding grounds in Iceland, Scandinavia, continental Europe and even Russia.The Bittern, one of the rarest breeding birds in Britain, is probably the reserve's "flagship" species. The reserve is undoubtedly the best location in Cumbria to see this secretive species. The birds visiting Siddick are continental birds which have escaped the harsh winters of the European mainland and to 'winter' in the relative warmth of West Cumbria thanks to the influence of the Gulf Stream. During the winter of 2004-2005, five Bitterns wintered at Siddick Ponds making this the largest number ever seen at Siddick Ponds. Winter is also the best season to see (or more likely hear) Water Rail. Their pig-like squeals can sometimes be heard from the depth of the reedbed and there is always a chance of catching a glimpse of one foraging on the edge of the reedbed, particularly during icy conditions. 

Spring sees an influx of migratory birds travelling north from Africa, reaching a peak in late-April and early-May. Warblers arrive en masse and Swifts, Swallows, Sand and House Martins make the most of aquatic invertebrates emerging from the ponds. Many of these remain to breed, notably Reed, Sedge and Grasshopper Warblers, Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats, all of which find a perfect home in the mosaic of habitats around the ponds. Other breeding species, which can usually be seen throughout the year, include Tufted Duck, Pochard, Shoveler, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen, Reed Bunting and there is always a good chance of seeing Sparrowhawk, Barn Owl, Cormorant, Greylag Goose and Kingfisher.

The pond's coastal location makes it an attractive stopover for a wide variety of passage migrants in spring and autumn, although often only for brief periods. Scarcities include occasional Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Mediterranean Gull and Little Egret while rarities have included Caspian Tern, Leach's Petrel, Firecrest, Cetti's Warbler, Marsh Harrier and Osprey.

Other wildlife is less well-recorded but butterflies well represented and include interesting species such as small blue, common blue, speckled wood, gatekeeper, ringlet and grayling in addition to more common species. Dragonflies are also visible on warm summer days and species such as Southern Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Common Darter and Blue-tailed Damselfly can be seen, depending on the time of year.

Management

The extensive reedbeds and combination of fresh and brackish water are what make Siddick Ponds such a special place. Reedbeds, like any other habitat, gradually change unless management is introduced to retain a particular stage of vegetation succession. Siddick Pond Nature Reserve

Management at Siddick Ponds is therefore targeted at preventing scrub encroachment and thus drying out of the reed beds and, preventing reed from encroaching onto the open water habitat. A combination of summer and winter reed cutting is used to retain the desired balance of reedbed of different age structures and open water

Who's involved

Siddick Ponds is owned by Allerdale Borough Council and the council is ultimately responsible for the management of the reserve. A 5-year Management Plan (2012-17) sets out a range of management objectives designed to maintain the site in the best possible condition for the local wildlife.

The reserve has been entered into Higher Level Stewardship with Natural England, a 10-year agreement that enables funding to be drawn down for carrying our an annual management programme.

Although the reserve is the council's responsibility, successful management is a product of strong local partnerships. The Friends of Siddick Ponds have been integral to the successful management of the reserve in recent years and continue to provide invaluable input. The group, consisting of local residents, meets regularly, and has raised funds and promoted the reserve to a much wider audience.

The Workington Nature Partnership (a partnership between Allerdale Borough Coucnil and Workington Town Council) has also helped tremendously in enabling weekly management visits to the reserve and volunteers have helped with conservation tasks including willow coppicing, reed cutting, meadow cutting, control of invasive species (such as Himalyan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed), fencing and species monitoring.

Other partners include ISS Facility Services, Natural England, Iggesund Paperboard, Groundwork North East & Cumbria and Sustrans.

Allerdale Borough Council and The Friends of Siddick Pond are always looking for new volunteers. If you are interested in helping, please email our Workington Nature Partnership Officer or contact us on 01900 702 702 and ask to be put through to the Parks and Open Spaces Team.

Access

The best way to access the reserve is through the Dunmail Park (Asda) car  park.  Access to the car park is from the A596 between Workington and Siddick. Head for the old mineral railway embankment (now a cyclepath) to the right of Edgar's car showrooms. The cyclepath bisects the two ponds and provides great viewing opportunities. Once on the cyclepath, by turning left it is possible to walk the full length of the freshwater pond as far as the coast, via a bridge over the A596, while a right turn towards Northside junction, followed by a left turn toward Seaton provides fantastic high level panoramic views over the ponds and reedbeds.

A short loop-path can also be accessed from the same point to provide easy viewing of the smaller brackish pond.

Access to the well-equipped bird hide can be gained by parking at Iggesund Paperboard, checking in at the security gate and asking for the keys. The hide offers excellent views of the western end of the pond and is well worth a visit.

We hope you enjoy your visit to the reserve. Please remember to place your litter in the bins provided and, if bringing a dog, to keep it on a leash and pick up after it. By helping us in this way you are helping to preserve the reserve for future generations.

Carlisle City Council logo   Cumbria County Council

Copeland District Council logo   Eden District Council logo

Gov.UK

Contact us

0303 123 1702

Allerdale Borough Council
Allerdale House, Workington, Cumbria,
CA14 3YJ